June 19, 2018

Why I Have a Strictly Remote Workforce

In 2012, I started an accounting firm, although I didn’t realize that I was starting an accounting firm at the time. I was merely working under contract for a few businesses in the New Orleans area; as I got busier, I started to add help, and voila, Aguillard Accounting was born.

For more information on how your firm can take the first steps in building a remote workforce, check out Amanda and her Bluewire Strategy co-founder, Ryan Watson, recorded webinar: Five Things You Need to Build a Remote Workforce (And It’s Not Just Technology) on May 21. View this recording for free here.

In 2012, I started an accounting firm, although I didn’t realize that I was starting an accounting firm at the time. I was merely working under contract for a few businesses in the New Orleans area; as I got busier, I started to add help, and voila, Aguillard Accounting was born. Like everyone I knew, I hired locally. I went out and leased the most amazing office space I had ever seen. I started with two interns and spent time training them in my beautiful office. My next hire was a staff accountant, and within a year, I added an administrative assistant.

It reduces overhead

Eventually, the interns left for bigger firms in bigger cities and my staff accountant moved with her husband to a new job. When my administrative assistant declared that she would be heading to law school, I took a long, hard look at our needs. We had two contractors in other cities working on projects already; they weren’t employees, but they worked as seamlessly as if they were. The administrative assistant’s duties were almost exclusively related to managing an office space that no one came to. Around the same time, I decided to give up my tax practice and focus on monthly accounting and software integrations, which is my love. My clients were across the country, and my local clients rarely came to the office. This was the final decision that led to downsizing our physical office space. I have saved $45,000 a year by moving to a one-room office about six blocks from my home in a shared building, and letting my staff work from home or coffee shops.

I find more qualified staff

I run a strictly Xero firm. When I started looking for bookkeepers in 2013, I could not find any in the New Orleans area that were Xero-certified and had experience. I finally found a bookkeeper in the Philippines where there is a lot of outsourcing to New Zealand and Australia, much bigger Xero markets. Since then, Xero help has been easier to find in the U.S., but I have still looked outside Louisiana to find the best candidates, looking for specific skill sets that aren’t common, like cloud-based app integration and process experience.

While it sounds a bit counterintuitive, remote staff can’t fake their ability, because their work product is the sole grounds on which they are judged. In an office, there can be an appearance of “being busy” or social politicking that clouds true merit, but in a remote environment, my employee’s output is what I see.

It empowers parents

I’m a single mom and built my firm so I could be available to my children. It is important to me that I have the kind of firm that gives other parents the same opportunity. Whether it is starting the workday an hour late, so I could attend a school ceremony with my son (which I did this morning) or being able to stay home if a child is sick, I believe in ultimate flexibility. Being a parent is hard enough, and I don’t want my employees to have to choose between work and family. The result is that I get engaged, committed staff who are incredibly efficient in their work.

Image: iStock/Aleutie

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